In January, when 96.1 BOB FM began asking around for favorite hometown rinks, it was a given that the Oak Lake Arena was mentioned as one of the best.
This small town rink serves up the best rink burgers in Western Manitoba, according to customers, hockey fans, players, and most recently the judges of the radio station’s Waistline Memorial Rink Burger Brawl contest.
Matt Gates, Kelsie Bateman and Mike Lamb from BOB FM in Brandon travelled throughout January, February and March taste testing rink burgers in 16 hometown rinks. Loving them all, it was a tough decision to choose a winner.
They made many trips, had a ton of fun and ate many burgers in order to find the best while travelling from Brandon west to Reston, north to Hamiota, east to Neepawa, and south through Carberry, Killarney and Boissevain.
Munching on close to 100 rink burgers within Westman, they discovered Marj Van Meer in the Oak Lake rink canteen flipping burgers made from scratch with her secret ingredients.
Van Meer, having begun work in the food service industry in her early teens, held the lease of Gold’n’Embers restaurant in Oak Lake from 2012 until 2016 when she moved her operation into the Oak Lake Arena on a contract basis.
Not only do she and her staff serve the best rink burgers in Westman, they also run the meals-on-wheels service for the town of Oak Lake and are open year-round providing a gathering place for morning coffee, meals and pizza for take-out.
When asked what makes her burgers so delicious, Van Meer, with a secretive smile, admits that she and her brother Donnie Gompf added just a few special ingredients to a family burger recipe to create THE best rink burgers in Westman.
Their burger comes with a perfectly grilled bun, lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, mustard and relish. Add Marj’s mouth-watering quarter pound hamburger patty, top it off with lots of melted cheese, a bit of onion and you’ve got a winner.